Moroccan king appoints Aziz Akhannouch as gov’t head

Akhannouch’s RNI emerged as the biggest party in Morocco’s parliamentary election, taking 102 of the 395 seats.

Aziz Akhannouch described the results of the legislative elections a 'victory of all Moroccans' after his party won the most seats [File: Fadel Senna/AFP]

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI has appointed Aziz Akhannouch, of the National Rally of Moroccan Independents (RNI), as head of government and asked him to form a cabinet, according to state media.

The report by state news agency MAP on Friday came after the liberal RNI emerged as the biggest political party in Wednesday’s parliamentary election, taking 102 of the 395 seats. The former largest party, the long-ruling Justice and Development Party (PJD), suffered a crushing defeat, taking only 13 seats.

Under reforms introduced in 2011, the king picks the prime minister from the largest party in parliament but retains veto power over cabinet members.

Akhannouch, a billionaire businessman, declared the results “a victory for democracy, its spirit and its rules”.

His party has promised to create one million jobs to boost the economy after the coronavirus pandemic, expand health insurance to all Moroccans, increase teacher salaries and provide a guaranteed pension for the elderly.

Akhannouch and his party must now build a governing coalition that can command a parliamentary majority of at least 198 seats.

The next-largest party after Wednesday’s vote was the also liberal Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM), with 86 seats.

The PJD, whose leader Saad Dine El Otmani had been prime minister since 2017, has complained of violations in the election including what it said was vote-buying by rivals.

However, after its dismal electoral showing has said it will go into opposition and not seek to join the next governing coalition.

Turnout in the parliamentary election was just over 50 percent, higher than in 2016.

Currently, Morocco’s economy is expected to grow 5.8 percent after contracting by 6.8 percent last year under the combined impact of the coronavirus pandemic and drought.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies